Written by J. Sundberg
Investing in workplace safety is always prudent—especially when you consider the high cost of injury for both the employer and the individual worker. At Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine, we find it concerning when an organization presents a strong safety message, but doesn’t take the necessary steps to back up their statements. That’s where your workplace safety plan comes in.
The following steps will help you to create a comprehensive workplace safety plan, and teach you how to use it to protect both the health of your employees and your business:
1. Identify Risks
A safer workplace starts with anticipating potential hazards in your workplace. While restaurant workers are prone to slip and fall incidents, oil and gas workers may risk more staggering hazards like explosions and fire. Make sure your employees understand the risks associated with their individual positions. When you’ve identified the risks, it will be easier to train employees to avoid them.
2. Learn Your Industry’s Compliance Standards
OSHA is the government agency charged with setting and enforcing standards of safe and healthful working conditions. It frequently updates its rules for individual industries, so it’s important to stay on top of the regulations for your industry.
In June 2018, OSHA began requiring companies in construction to do more to limit workers’ exposure to silica, including offering medical exams, providing respirators, and implementing a written exposure control plan. Be sure to stay on top of your industry’s requirements to remain in compliance, as standards can change in a matter of months.
3. Develop Programs and Processes
You’ll need to create clear guidelines for your employees to promote a culture of health and safety at your company. Employee job descriptions should be clear and in writing, discussing individual responsibilities related to health and safety. Having the requirements of your programs and processes in writing is important because it reduces the chance of misinterpretation or ambiguity. Here are just a few examples of safety regulations that require written plans:
- Emergency action plans
- Electrical safety
- Fire prevention plans
- Hearing conservation plans
- Hazard Communication Program
- Respiratory Protection Program
- Bloodborne Pathogens Post-exposure Plan
- Trenching and Excavation Safety
4. Educate Your Employees
Training sessions should be held whenever a new hire is made, or when new processes, procedures or equipment are introduced to the workplace. Be sure to teach employees how to identify hazards, prevent accidents and respond to injuries. Posters should be displayed as reminders of your company’s safety procedures and priorities, and employee handbooks should also include workplace safety procedures.
5. Enforce and Evaluate Your Safety Plan
If your managers aren’t on board with enforcement, you’ll have a tough time implementing any changes in your safety and health policies. Routine safety audits and annual training sessions are great ways to begin enforcing safety rules. It’s also important to evaluate the success of your programs on a regular basis. Take a look at your accident numbers at least annually, or whenever a new safety hazard is discovered.
6. Be Prepared for Inevitable Injuries
In any workplace, it’s only a matter of time before an accident occurs on the job. Have a plan for where to take your employees when they’re injured, and get to know your occupational medicine and workers’ compensation providers.
Taking the necessary precautions during the pre-hiring process—like evaluating workers’ ability to perform job functions—can result in less workers’ compensation claims.
Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine has locations across Colorado that are equipped to handle both injury care and pre-employment examinations.